• Subscribe
    Fill something at the
    'Theme option > Overall Elements > Top Bar > Top Bar Subscribtion' section



Field Trips


The Nature Institute’s education staff develops lively, nature-themed curricula with Illinois and Missouri Learning Standards in mind. TNI field trips are designed for public, private, and home school students, scout groups, church groups, and university groups.  Hobbyists and naturalists of all ages are welcome to set up field trips which can be tailored specifically to your needs.  Workshops are periodically available for teachers to provide Continuing Professional Development Units.

We offer year-round opportunities for children, adults, and families to connect with nature. Educators introduce native habitats, flora, and fauna of Illinois to learners, using the surrounding woodlands, wetlands, and prairies as experiential outdoor classrooms. Whether our staff comes to you or your students come on site, TNI’s education team will help expand understanding and appreciation of the natural world, and foster scientific capability using innovative teaching tools and techniques. Students learn with live animals, mounted specimens, monitoring equipment, and hands-on discovery. All programs include specific academic activities that meet Illinois state standards and national environmental education standards.

Program Costs:
2 hours – $3.00 per student | Over 2 hours – $4.00 per student | No cost for adults

Field Trip Brochure

  • Pre-School and Kindergarten- Field trips for young children should be full of exploration and sensory learning. Students can go on a guided color hike, smell and feel native plants, and look and record signs of wildlife on TNI trails.
  • 1st through 3rd grade- As children age, they graduate from exploring to understanding. Students can explore with their senses on a hike, identify natural flora and fauna, and compare woodland, prairie, and wetland species and habitats.
  • 4th through 6th grade- Trips in this age range will add more advanced STEM knowledge. Students will build on habitat knowledge and learn information on geology and ecology. With the proper background knowledge, students are fostered to be environmental stewards. Discussions about conservation and adding stewardship projects may be appropriate for older students.
  • Middle and High School- These students are ready to be challenged and take action where they can. Learning with this age group can focus on social issues related to conservation and stewardship. What are those big questions and how can we solve them as a community?

Certified Outdoor Classroom

The Nature Institute (TNI) features a natural, playground-style, outdoor classroom conveniently located in front of Talahi Lodge. This easily accessible outdoor classroom is wonderful for field trip and home school groups and our visitors. This classroom, named “Discovery Woods,” was installed in 2015 with a natural play area featuring Decomposer Grove, Fossil Dig, Burrow, and Geology Garden in memory of Judy Hoffman and others.

Many of these features were made with recycled construction materials and non-native Osage orange trees found on our preserve. These additions were created to showcase team building, discovery, and imaginative play all with natural, sustainable products.

In 2017, Nature Explore, a collaboration between Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, officially authenticated the “Discovery Woods” as a certified “Nature Explore Classroom.” 

Additional plans for expansion are in the works and hope to include a music board, pollinator garden, and other sensory areas. 

Learning and Education Programming 

With over 30 years of experience in environmental education, TNI has perfected different programs in their curriculum. Here are some example programs organizers can choose from:

  • Seasons on the Preserve
  • Pond Study & River Watch
  • Entomology (Study of Insects)
  • Animal Signs and Tracks
  • Recycling and Composting
  • Geology
  • Invasion Ecology
  • Outdoor Survival Skills
  • GPS, Compass and Map Reading
  • Citizen Science & Much More!
    Firepit can be utilized for roasting hotdogs and s’mores at request.
    Need a specific topic to be covered? Let us know how to customize a program for you.

Set up your field trip today

On Site Field Trip

  • 2 hour program- $3 per child, includes program of your choice and a hike
  • 3+ hour program- $4 per child, includes program of your choice, hike and team challenge or research
  • Girl or Boy Scout program- $2 per child
  • Homeschool program– TNI assists in homeschool learning too. Fill out the form below or call TNI education team for how we can fit in with your teaching

In School Outreach

  • One hour program- $2 per child, up to 30 total students
  • After-school program- $2 per child

Step 1: Review the calendar below for available dates. Choose your top three times for availability. The calendar is best compatible when using Chrome as your web browser. In the event that you cannot view the calendar, please continue to step 2 and fill out the form with your top three dates. 

Step 2: Fill out the form below the calendar and our education staff will email you with a full confirmation within 3-5 business days. This form is the best way to communicate with our education team.  

Need funding assistance? Check out available Illinois Biodiversity Grants through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Field Trip Availability


Green Dates = Available Dates

There are dates available for winter 2019/2020 field trips. Please check the calendar and book your field trip today. 

Field Trip Scheduling

  • Start with your first choice and end with your third choice